James Comey made ‘error of judgement’ in Hillary Clinton probe

President Donald Trump on Friday called a new report by the Justice Department "a total disaster" for both former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey and the institution he once led and highlighted one of its more damaging revelations in a series of morning tweets.

In his Friday tweetstorm, Trump retweeted clip after clip from Fox News highlighting Comey's impropriety, and showing evidence of bias from others within the agency. "It was a den of thieves".

In a highly anticipated report released Thursday, the Justice Department's internal watchdog said those messages sullied the FBI's reputation and "cast a cloud" over its investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails, even if they did not affect the investigation itself.

Writing in the New York Times, Mr Comey said: "I do not agree with all of the inspector general's conclusions, but I respect the work of his office and salute its professionalism". There was no obstruction. On Friday he said the report was a "total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

The 500-page document stops far short of endorsing the attacks levied at Comey for the previous year by President Donald Trump.

The president's lawyers want to paint Comey's firing as something he was both authorized to do under the Constitution and correct to do based on Comey's performance.

Judgments on how the new report will impact Trump's legal future predictably break down along party lines. "I don't care what anyone says, it looks bad".

But Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from CT, declared that "any effort to use this report as an excuse for shutting down the special counsel's investigation is both disingenuous and risky".

FILE PHOTO: Former FBI director James Comey speaks about his book during an onstage interview with Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen at George Washington University in Washington, U.S. April 30, 2018.

Strzok, who had helped lead the Clinton probe, was removed from the Russian Federation investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller after the texts came to his attention.

The report was particularly critical of Strzok, the lead agent in the Clinton probe, saying he showed anti-Trump bias that could have affected his thinking on the case during the immediate run-up to the 2016 election. "Right?!" Page texted Strzok. One of them was about Strzok vowing to "stop" Trump from being elected just months before the presidential election.

But the 568-page report did no such thing.

The report takes issue with Comey's breaks from department policy in the public announcements he made in July and October 2016 about the Clinton investigation.

Trump's lawyers will argue that the report's criticism of Comey makes it clear the President fired him for the right reasons - and the decision was not part of an effort to obstruct justice.

He said that the Inspector General report released Thursday was "pretty good" but "blew it at the very end" by saying that the investigations were not tainted by bias.

"I never thought that's what it was". He continued, "I think the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited".

  • Jon Douglas